"So they turned to attack him, but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him."
- 2 Chronicles 18:31 NIV
Ever since I began studying the Scriptures years ago, I've been inspired by the life of Jehoshaphat, one of the ancient kings of Judah. He was basically a very good king, but the Bible tells us plainly that he was far from perfect. Even so, the Lord blessed him and used him mightily. Second Chronicles Chapter 20 gives us a glimpse of how this man of God responded in times of trouble. When Jehoshaphat was told that a "vast army" was coming against him, the first thing he did was "resolve to inquire of the Lord." (2 Chronicles 20:2-3 NIV) When you are faced with trouble, do you run to the throne or the phone? One way we can determine our spiritual maturity is by observing who we turn to first when trouble hits. The next verse in this passage says that, "The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord." (2 Chronicles 20:4 NIV) Not only did this king make seeking the Lord Himself a priority, but he got others to join with him in prayer. Jesus spoke of the awesome power available to believers who come together in prayer. He said, "I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven." (Matthew 18:19 NIV) I am blessed with a praying family. And I am always amazed at how we have "come together" in prayer, even at a distance, when trouble has come our way.
As the enemy is bearing down on Jehoshaphat, he pours his heart out to God, declaring his confidence in the Lord's ability and willingness to deliver His people. He says: "If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in Your presence before this temple that bears Your Name and will cry out to You in our distress, and You will hear us and save us." (2 Chronicles 20:9 NIV) The most encouraging aspect of this verse for me is that even though God's people may have brought this calamity upon themselves--the "sword of judgment"--Jehoshaphat does not hesitate to ask the Lord for assistance and mercy. If we go back and read Chapter 18, we discover why. Jehoshaphat had previously made an unholy alliance that led him into a trap which almost cost him his life. Scripture tells us that in the heat of battle, "Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him." (2 Chronicles 18:31 NIV) Even if our trials are the result of our own stupidity and sin, we can cry out to God for help, and He will hear us. The Lord may not erase all of the natural consequences of our disobedience, but if we will call on Him, He will make His presence known in the midst of our trouble. As King David wrote: "He does not treat us as our sins deserve, or repay us according to our iniquities." (Psalm 103:10 NIV)
The Bible tells us that these enemies coming against Jehoshaphat and his people are some of the same ones that the Israelites spared when they originally conquered the Promised Land. Jehoshaphat doesn't hesitate to point this out to God in his prayer. He says: "But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory You would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession You gave us as an inheritance. O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You." (2 Chronicles 20:10-12 NIV) God answers Jehoshaphat's prayer for justice by not only giving him and his people the victory, but by rewarding them with "so much plunder that it took three days to collect it." (2 Chronicles 20:25 NIV) When we are kind and merciful to others--especially our enemies--in obedience to God, and they "repay" us with mistreatment, we can ask the Lord to intervene on our behalf and fight our battles for us. As Scripture promises, "We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!" (2 Chronicles 32:8 NLT)
There are many lessons that we can learn from the life of King Jehoshaphat--including the importance of prayer and prayer support, the availability of grace for the guilty, and the rewards of fighting battles God's way. May the Lord plant these principles deep in your heart, so that you may apply them for your good and His glory!
Prayer: Lord, whenever I am faced with hurt or heartache, remind me to turn to You first. Show me who to seek out for prayer support in every situation and circumstance. Help me to never hesitate to turn to You when my trouble is caused by my own disobedience and foolishness. Thank You that as I depend on You to fight my battles, I will experience the prosperity, security, and victory that belong to me in Christ!
- J. M. Farro